Debate team welcomes new coaches


“I am excited to begin the 2015-2016 debate season. I have high expectations and we should do very well,” said Josh Stein (’16), a varsity debater.

by Christina Howie, Copy Editor

Mr. Justin Ecochard is stepping down from his position coaching the debate team after eight years.  Fellow history teacher Mr. Paul McCrary and business teacher Ms. Una Kearns will take over for this upcoming season.

Although Ecochard never had any experience with debate in high school or college, he was immediately intrigued after watching his first debate at Glen Rock.  “The people that debate, they’re not there just for giggles.  They’re there because they want to compete and so it was a competitive form,” Ecochard said.  “It was academic as well so I liked it.  I got sucked in.”

Being Debate Team adviser and coach comes with many responsibilities.  Coaches from each school come together and are responsible for putting together the entire schedule for the season.  Communication is crucial in order to stay organized.

“The last four years I was president of the North Jersey Debate League, so I was in charge of all the coaches and organizing those types of things so it’s a lot of work,” Ecochard said.  “Organizing the entire schedule, organizing the training not only for the coaches but also for all the students, all the new students, incoming, who have never really debated before.”

Other aspects of Debate Team include planning the awards ceremony and ensuring that home debates run as smoothly as possible.

“When we have the debates at Glen Rock it’s basically organized chaos,” Ecochard said.  “That’s probably the biggest responsibility for any of the coaches and any of the schools.”

Due to personal reasons, Ecochard will not be able to continue coaching the Debate Team this year. However, Mr. Paul McCrary seized the opportunity.

“I saw that it was open so I figured I might as well step-up before it gets shoved on to someone else who doesn’t want to do it,” McCrary said.  “I figured I would volunteer to help out because the senior guys are great.  The class is great, and I wanted to make sure they didn’t just have some random person coaching it.”

“When I heard it was Mr. McCrary I was very excited because I know he’s got some great ideas,” Ecochard said.  “He’s got a great relationship with the students, so I knew it would be successful so I was happy.”

Just like Ecochard, McCrary never had any prior experience with debate until witnessing a debate at Glen Rock.

“I’ve listened to Mr. Ecochard talk about like how stuff runs so I kinda have an idea.  He’s a resource that I have access to, which is nice,” McCrary said.  “I can ask him ‘What do I do now?  What do I do now?’ and he can actually help out.  Like he’s going to go to the first judges clinic with me to help me figure everything out.”

Victoria Messikian, a senior and second year debater is excited for this upcoming season.

“I really appreciated how supportive Mr. Ecochard was before or after a debate when my team or other team members felt nervous or disappointed.  He gives great advice and knows exactly what to say to make a debater feel as as confident as they can,” she said.  “I think Mr. McCrary will be equally as great as Mr. Ecochard.  Mr. McCrary is very knowledgeable about the resolve this year and is probably great at finding loopholes in a plan.”

This year’s resolve is about substantially decreasing federal domestic surveillance.

“The GRHS debate team is in very good shape for the upcoming school year.  Our senior debaters are all very strong, and we have some promising underclassmen who will hopefully serve to contribute to the team,” said Itay Kazaz (‘16), a varsity debater.  “We are looking forward to a year of success and more importantly, fun.”

The first varsity debate will take place on Wednesday, October 28 at Northern Highlands Regional High School.